A photo of Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn is being circulated out of context with the false claim that she flashed a white power hand signal at the April 7 confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. But the photo was from a different meeting held the same day. Let’s take a look at the facts.
The “OK” hand symbol has been associated with white nationalism since 2017, when a trolling hoax spread from the internet message board 4chan to some segments of the far right and white supremacist movements. Since then, the symbol has been used by some white nationalists as a way to provoke outrage, and has inspired other viral rumors, including about President Joe Biden, Roger Stone, Kyle Rittenhouse and a contestant on Jeopardy. Besides invoking a complicated and often incidental troll gesture, this rumor includes two more red flags: It makes a strong appeal to partisan rancor and explicitly asks for retweets.
NLP’s viral rumor rundown is a regular feature in The Sift, its weekly email newsletter for educators, and in Get Smart About News, its weekly email newsletter for the general public. You can subscribe to these newsletters here. Send suggestions, questions or feedback on this rumor or on the viral rumor rundown blog to email@example.com.